Stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked while performing on stage Tuesday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Video footage shows a man rushing on to the stage and tackling the performer to the ground during the Netflix is a Joke comedy festival. The attacker then gets up and tries to run off-stage before he is caught and tackled by what appear to be security personnel and members of Chappelle’s team. Details of the incident are being pieced together as spectators’ mobile phones were supposed to have been confiscated before the event.
According to the snippets that have emerged so far, Chappelle appears to be largely unhurt and quickly regained his composure after the attack. “It was a trans man,” he tells the crowd later.
Comedian Chris Rock, who had performed a set earlier in the evening, came on stage with Chappelle just after the attack and said, “Was that Will Smith?”
Chappelle has been a controversial figure for his frequent jokes about transgender people and the perception that he is transphobic.
— abazar 🦇🔊 (@abazar) May 4, 2022
Chris rock after Dave Chappelle get attacked on stage “is that will smith “😂 pic.twitter.com/hw4PWZWC6y
— abdulaziz (@abdulaziz0m) May 4, 2022
Actor Jamie Foxx is understood to have rushed on stage to help Chappelle and apprehend the attacker.
“Whenever you’re in trouble, Jamie Foxx will show up in a sheriff’s hat,” quipped Chappelle at the show’s curtain call. Unconfirmed video shows Foxx responding: “I thought that was part of the show.”
The incident has unfortunate echoes of Will Smith’s slap of comedian Chris Rock during the Oscars ceremony in March, and will likely raise questions about freedom of speech and the security of performers.
In another unconfirmed phone video clip, Foxx is heard to say: “Listen, I just want to say this man is an absolute genius. We’ve got to make sure we protect him at all times … For every comedian who comes out here, this means everything. You’re a genius. You’re a legend, and we’re not going to let nothing happen to you.”
Variety has reached out to Netflix for comment on the incident.
Chappelle and his comedy have grabbed headlines in recent months, largely due to his Netflix comedy special “The Closer.” In the special, which was released in October, the comedian addressed his long history of making jokes about the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans people, but doubled down on the offensive humor.
The comedian called himself a member of “team TERF” (a term that stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist”) and shared an anecdote about beating up a lesbian woman. Chappelle’s comments and Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos’ initial defense of him came under fire with protests, including by staff at Netflix, three of whom were suspended and later reinstated.
Most recently, Chappelle made the news for helping to kill an affordable housing plan in his hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Selome Hailu contributed to this story.